KARACHI: Two traffic police constables were shot dead at Ayesha Manzil in the Azizabad area on Saturday afternoon in a targeted attack whose responsibility was claimed hours later by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The attackers riding a motorcycle did not give reaction time to the traffic policemen, who were armed with an MP-5 rifle and a pistol, as they sprayed both the officials with bullets before taking away their official weapons.
Fourteen policemen, including the two traffic officials, have been killed this year so far. Last year six traffic policemen had been gunned down in separate incidents.
Sindh IGP A.D. Khowaja suspended the Azizabad traffic section officer Sajid Sheikh for not providing bulletproof jackets to the traffic officials.
The shooting came as a grim reminder of the twin gun attacks on April 21 when seven policemen guarding polio workers were shot dead in Orangi.
Police said they collected some evidences from the crime-scene after the latest shooting and picked up seven suspects from a residential compound in the Water Pump area during a search operation for questioning.
Outlawed TTP claims responsibility for the attack
Posted at the Azizabad traffic section, Mohammed Akram, 47, and Shakeel Ahmed, 49, were regulating traffic near the Ayesha Manzil bridge while their seniors — a section officer and an assistant sub-inspector — had gone to offer Zuhr prayers when two suspects riding a motorbike appeared there, said Karachi-West DIG Feroze Shah. He added that the riders, both wearing helmets, sprayed the officials with bullets and fled.
One of the traffic policemen sustained six gunshot wounds while the other was hit by two bullets, said the DIG, adding that the latter tried to retaliate but remained unable to use his official weapon due to critical wounds.
Additional police surgeon of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital Dr Rohina Hasan said that both the victims were brought dead to the hospital.
The police investigators collected one spent bullet casing fired from a 9mm pistol from the crime scene and was sent to the forensic laboratory of police for investigation to ascertain whether the same weapon had been used in other killings in the metropolis, said DIG Shah. He said it was ‘premature’ to blame any group at this moment.
Soon after the incident, the police conducted a search operation in a residential complex near Water Pump and reportedly detained seven people for questioning as Sindh Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah ordered IG police Sindh to launch immediate action for arrest of the culprits. “I want immediate arrest of the killers,” Mr Shah was quoted as having said to the police chief, according to a CM House spokesperson.
Acting on orders of the chief minister, IGP Khowaja ordered the DIG West and Central SSP to ensure the arrest of culprits “in light of collection of evidences from the crime scene and statement of witnesses.”
IGP Khowaja directed the police officers to ensure effective and coordinated investigation and seek help from the police’s forensic lab and to bring not only the culprits but also their facilitators to task.
According to the police spokesperson, 14 police officials including the two traffic police officials have been killed in the line of duty during the past five months. Last year, six traffic policemen had been gunned down in Karachi, said traffic police spokesperson Idrees Bhatti.
TTP claims responsibility
Raja Umer Khattab, an officer of the counter-terrorism department of police who visited the crime scene, told Dawn that the suspects took away one official MP-5 rifle and one pistol of the slain traffic policemen.
Quoting witnesses, the CTD officer said one suspect disembarked from the motorbike and pumped a bullet into the head of one constable. As he fell down, another constable ran and tried to load his MP-5 rifle apparently to retaliate but the suspect chased and also shot him in the head before taking away the official weapons of the constables.
The CTD officer said that Khalid Khurasani of the outlawed TTP’s Special Task Force (STF) had claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
In reply to a question, he said the STF was ‘active’ in Karachi.
“We are still investigating the case to determine the people and motive behind the attack,” said Mr Khattab, adding that they had received the police’s forensic lab report, which showed that the pistol used in killing of the traffic policemen had not been used in other targeted killings in Karachi.
About the killing of seven policemen guarding polio workers last month in Orangi Town, the officer said so far no progress had been made in that case. But he said a ‘few arrests’ had been made in the cases related to the killing of six traffic policemen last year. He added that the held suspects belonged to banned outfits.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2016